LOS ANGELES — Bartolo Colon said he made a promise to his mother before she died in 2014. “The promise was that I’m going to pitch until I’m 45,” the 44-year-old righthander said Monday. “I have to make that happen. Next year could be the year, but I have to make the promise come true for my mom.”
In other words, Colon said, don’t believe everything you read about his plans — including a report on ESPN.com last week that said he was considering retiring after Monday’s start against the Dodgers.
His mother comes first.
Of course, sometimes those decisions aren’t up to the player, but Colon seems to have a determined ally in Twins manager Paul Molitor, who has liked what he’s seen of Colon’s first two starts.
In both cases, Colon was masterful the first time through the lineup, but began giving up hard-hit balls in the fourth inning, then got battered in the fifth inning. It’s amounted to eight runs in nine innings, a statistic that Molitor said appears worse than Colon has actually pitched.
“I don’t even know if it came apart. These [Dodgers] are making adjustments, and they got very aggressive,” Molitor said. “They elevated a couple that got out of the park,” meaning back-to-back home runs by Yosmani Grandal and Joc Pederson, “He had a chance to get out of it until the two-out base hit up the middle.”
No matter. Colon will get a third start on Sunday in Oakland, which makes him happy; he hasn’t pitched in the dismal Coliseum since he was an extremely popular member of the A’s in 2013.
Rosario bashes against lefties
Eddie Rosario had three hits on Monday, each of which drove in a run. Even more encouraging: Each came off a left-handed pitcher.
“Rosie’s always going to have games where he’s going to stand out. Facing a lefty tonight, he stayed in there and [went] the other way,” Molitor said. “He’s understanding if he wants to compete against the lefties, he’s got to stay in there a little better. And tonight he got good results.”
Rosario sounded almost annoyed that anybody thought it was a surprise that he collected three hits against left-handers, including an opposite-field home run, just the fifth off a lefthander in his career.
“Everybody thinks lefty pitcher is tough for every lefty hitter, but I work hard to hit a lefty,” Rosario said. “It’s not easy for a pitcher to take me out.”
The .500 club
The Twins fell to 49-49 on the season, which dropped them 3 1/2 games behind Cleveland for the AL Central lead. It also marked the first time since they were 11-11 on April 28 that the Twins find themselves just a break-even team.
It didn’t have to happen, Molitor pointed out.
The Twins lost a run on Jason Castro’s fourth-inning double when Robbie Grossman was thrown out at the plate on a relay from shortstop Corey Seager. The Twins challenged umpire Jim Reynolds’ call, but it was upheld despite some video evidence that appeared to show that Grossman’s hand was touching the plate when he was tagged.
“If [Reynolds] had called him safe, they couldn’t have turned it the other way, as far as I could tell,” Molitor said.
In the sixth, the Twins loaded the bases with one out — Grossman was about a third of the way home on Castro doubled again, but suddenly stopped and scrambled back to the bag — but couldn’t score.
Max Kepler, pinch-hitting for Colon, struck out, and Brian Dozier followed with a deep drive into the right-field corner. Suddenly, Yasiel Puig came roaring in from right-center and made a running catch at the bullpen door, squelching the Twins’ rally.
“I’ve seen him do that a lot on television. First time in person, though,” Molitor said. “He seems to have no fear of the wall. He knows this park really well. I think he knew how much room he had. It was a really good catch, but he got there fairly easily; I thought when it was hit, it might have a chance to slice into the corner but he tracked it down.”
Those two missed chances dropped Minnesota to 1-for-17 (.063) since July 15 when the bases are loaded.
Robbie Grossman bunted for a hit in the sixth inning, his first ever as a Twin. Grossman’s last bunt single came in 2014 while with Houston.